Starting a diet plan is not easy. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that ensures weight loss as well as a perfectly firm and lean, muscular machine! Whether it is a diet designed for competition or just to get back into shape, the beginning part is by far the most challenging. This is because it involves breaking habits.

Habits are behaviors that are performed with minimum cognitive effort; they are automatic responses. Even though the habit(s) may provide you a positive outcome in the present, in the long run the habit(s) will only be detrimental to your weight-loss or competitive goal. Think of the positive outcome that chocolate will give you post-consumption. However, in the long run, it is not getting you any closer to your weight-loss and/or muscle-building goal! Effectively breaking habits to get into your diet plan takes some serious mind control, dedication, hard work and a change in lifestyle to achieve the body you want. Most of us are so preoccupied with life that we are not even aware of the things we can easily change, which will go a long way in helping us achieve not just our short-term competitive or weight-loss goals, but ensuring we maintain our beautiful body even after achieving our accomplishment. So how do you kick bad habits to the side and get on the right track to diet success? Try this— here are seven things you can do in seven days to start changing your bad habits, and start making better choices that ensure lifestyle changes for success no matter if the goal is muscle building, weight loss or for competition. Each day, simply implement a new strategy and by the end of the week, you will be ready to take on your goal with a fitness tool kit of new, healthy eating habits.

Day One: Rid your fridge and pantry of problem food pronto! And don’t forget to get rid of condiments like creamy dressing or barbeque sauce that are packed in fat, sugar and extra calories! The most effective way to break a habit is to make it impossible. If there is no junk food to reach for when hunger comes your way, it will be hard to eat it! Out of sight, out of mind applies in this case. If you know you and chocolate have an inseparable relationship, simply do not have it in the house. Only keep what you need on your diet at hand. If hunger persists, be sure to have low-calorie options available like veggie sticks and low-calorie, fat-free vinaigrette dressing.

Day Two: Get your fill of water! Start drinking water on a regular basis, aim for at least 3 to 4 liters per day. Drink with meals, between meals, before, during and after workouts. Water makes up more than two thirds of human bodyweight, and its presence is necessary for every function in the body. From a fitness perspective, water has a direct impact on your overall ability to work out, including energy levels, duration and intensity. It also influences digestion, transportation of nutrients, removal of toxins and even has an effect on your metabolism. Drinking plenty of water helps the body stay hydrated, keeps hunger cravings in check and can help control appetite. If you have a hard time drinking water, try sparkling water with lemon or chilled unsweetened brewed tea.

Day Three: Head to the grocery store. Now that your house has been purged of bad food, it’s time to head out and buy some good food that will support your weight-loss and muscle-building goals. First off, do not go to the grocery store hungry; it can only result in grabbing anything and everything to stop your hunger pronto. Bring a list of just what is needed for your diet plan, and don’t divert from it! Next, remember that most of your shopping needs can be fulfilled from the outer perimeter! The grocery store is full of temptation on the inside aisles, everything you need with the exception of a few things can be found around the perimeter of the store where all the fresh and natural food is. Avoid processed foods that are full of sugar and fat, and start reading food labels.

Day Four: Fill your plate with veggies— the green kind! Eat as many green vegetables as you like and avoid eating vegetables that are high in sugar like carrots, corn or peas. Eat broccoli, cucumber or leafy greens like spinach, kale or swiss chard. They are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, contain virtually no carbohydrates and are ultra low in calories. Green vegetables are the perfect complement to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet designed for weight loss and muscle building. Start making it a habit to have green veggies with every meal, and try new ones whenever possible to keep it interesting.

Day Five: Do not skip any meals— especially breakfast. Skipping this important first meal of the day can set the tone for the rest of the day. It has been shown that eating a low-glycemic index breakfast can increase fat oxidation during exercise and satiety post-exercise. Not consuming breakfast can lead to low blood sugar levels and severe cravings! Set yourself up right; eat a low-glycemic index breakfast high in fiber, such as oatmeal, and aim to eat meals every two to three hours after your first meal of the day. Eating frequent smaller meals can help raise metabolic rate, burn more calories and result in less body fat storage.

Day Six: Have protein with every meal— make it a habit to have a serving of protein with every meal, especially if your goal is to gain lean muscle and your workout plan involves a whole lot of weightlifting. Aim for 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to maintain protein balance in the body. If you do not get enough protein in your meal plan, you will only end up in negative protein balance, which can increase protein catabolism— or break down and can eventually lead to decreased recovery. Divide this amount into five or six small meals throughout the day.

Day Seven: Plan and prepare for the week ahead. Start now by planning what you will eat the following week. Don’t forget to think about any upcoming events or meetings, birthdays or weddings that could compromise your diet success. Have a contingency plan in place for what and where you will eat. Once you have a plan in place, now is the time to prepare all your food for the upcoming week. Cook, grill or bake your protein and carbohydrate options. Portion out using a food scale and refrigerate or freeze. You will be more likely to stay on your diet and turn it into a real lasting lifestyle change by planning and preparing for it!


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